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Aurélie Vialette


Associate Professor, Director of Graduate Studies
Affiliated Faculty, Center for the Study of Inequalities, Social Justice and Policy

Humanities Building 1141

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I specialize in 19th-century Iberian cultural studies (popular music, journalistic discourse, archival studies, and mass and working class organizations), transatlantic studies, and slavery networks. I conduct my research in Spanish, Catalan, Basque, and Galician, and I include these languages in the classroom as well, both at the undergraduate and graduate level.

In my first book,  Intellectual Philanthropy: the Seduction of the Masses  (Purdue University Press, 2018, Recipient of the North American Catalan Society Prize for an Outstanding Work in the Field of Catalan Studies, 2019), I focus on the cultural production that responds to the workers’ educational and social phenomena, such as poverty, the rise of revolutionary movements, and the integration of masses of workers into the cultural, political, and social concert in 19th-century Iberia (Catalonia, Basque Country, Asturias, Galicia).

The translation into Spanish is forthcoming with Ediciones Akal, Filantropía intelectual: la seducción de las masas. (2020).

  Vialette book cover 1


My edited volume co-edited with Irene Gómez-Castellano is titled Dissonances of Modernity: Music, Text and Performance in Modern Spain. ( North Carolina Studies in Romance Languages and Literatures, Dec 2019). 

Vialette bookcover 2


I am working on three book projects:

Concealment of Forced Labor: Slave trader Antonio López y López and the General Tobacco Company in the Philippines . (manuscript in progress)

Abstract: My project reveals that the tobacco industry in the Philippines in the nineteenth century had strong ties to the slave trade. Entrepreneurs, international businesses and banks (in Paris, Madrid, Barcelona, London, New York, Naples, Liverpool and Hamburg) participated in the tobacco trade all over the world: from Europe, to the Russian Empire, Romania, Turkey, Tunisia, Asia, and Australia. I underscore the networks these entrepreneurs were part of and argue that they concealed their participation to the slave trade. More importantly, my project asks fundamental questions about the construction of historical narratives. Indeed, these entrepreneurs have been praised as great men in the construction of our modern nations. Their entrepreneurship has participated in the modernization of many cities and in the creation of banks and banking networks that are still in use nowadays. I focus on Spain, as the Tobacco Company in the Philippines was created by slave trader Antonio López y López in 1881 with slave trade money and using forced labor.


The Colonial Carceral Archipelago: Penitentiary Colonization and the Failed Rebirth of the Spanish Empire . (manuscript in progress)

Abstract: My project examines the discourses vying for the reform of the penitentiary system in nineteenth-century Spain. This reform movement included one pressing issue that soon became a debate: whether or not to send criminals overseas —to the Philippines, the Marianas, or the island of Fernando Poo (Gulf of Guinea). I am interested in this debate and in the moral and ethical implications of the treatment of the convicts. The debate shaped ideas about what it meant to imprison delinquents, rehabilitate them, and use their labor. In this sense, my research digs into the models proposed by Spanish reformers to organize new politics of incarceration and mass incarceration by using the island as a space of exception, or, as French philosopher Michel Foucault has named it, the Carceral Archipelago.


From Barcelona to New York, to Cuba and Back: Catalan Freemasons Networks and the Defense of Independentism . (manuscript in progress)

Abstract: This book project investigates the masonic relationships between Catalonia, the US and Cuba. I argue that Catalan freemasons built important networks between Barcelona and Cuba that participated in the dissemination of Catalanism, at a crucial time for Cubans, since it was when an independent discourse was spreading on the island. I look specifically at how the press became a platform that freemasons used to communicate the importance and legitimacy of an ideological Catalanist discourse. The interesting aspect of these freemason networks was that they went through New York, a city in which Catalan freemasons were also established. It has been said that Catalans in Cuba were mostly supportive of the Spanish colony. However, I prove here that Catalan freemason ideology was opposed to colonialism and at the same time, through a subtle and yet well-organized communication on both sides of the Atlantic, it participated in the international projection of Catalonia and of a Catalanist ideology.


I also have a strong interest in Digital Humanities. I am currently working on a project that explores Catalan composer Josep Anselm Clavé’s musical archive, correspondence and political activities.

Finally, I am also interested and have published on the journalistic networks by women writers between Mexico and Spain in the second half of the nineteenth-century.

Research interests

  • Masses and mass organizations
  • Slavery networks
  • Iberian Studies
  • Modernity and the arts
  • Intellectuals and society in the Hispanic world
  • Cultural discourses in Spain
  • Music and politics
  • “Folletines” and “novelas por entregas”
  • Catalan studies
  • Transatlantic Studies
  • Nineteenth-century Mexico
  • Women’s studies
  • Digital Humanities
  • Carceral reform


Courses taught at Stony Brook

“Disabled Bodies, National Politics” (MA)

“Protest and Disobedience” (Graduate Seminar)

“Women Writers in the Hispanic World” (Undergraduate)

“Inventing the carceral system: crime, politics and the remnants of Empire” (Graduate Seminar)

“Fluid Borders – Iberian Nations” (Undergraduate)

“Art and Resistance in Times of Uprising (1868-2012)” (Graduate Seminar)
“Nationalisms in Spain: Basque Country, Catalonia and Galicia” (Humanities –in English)
“Civilization of Spain” (Undergraduate)
“The Nation and its Spaniards Discontents” (MA Seminar)
“Politics of Crime: the Carcelar System in the Iberian Peninsula”(Undergraduate)